Autumn 2014

On just a one day visit we saw lots of wildlife, starting with three startled deer that did not hear us coming. However, they moved too fast for identification. A buzzard called overhead, pheasants shouted from within the trees, a huge flock of pigeons, 2 kestrels together, a mallard calling from a pond, a magpie, rabbits, harlequin ladybirds and a flock of long tailed tits.

On other occasions we have seen hares still using the land, which I am so pleased about because I thought that they would prefer not to be among the trees. Someone was walking among the trees on another day and put up a pair of woodcock. When we looked in our bird book we saw that woodcock look remarkably like snipe, so wonder if on some occasions we have identified the wrong bird. It cannot be relied upon that snipe would only be on the ponds and woodcock only among the trees, so that does not help.

The aim of being there was to check on the bat and bird boxes put up only a few months ago. We found four bat boxes, three of which had bat droppings in. Of the 20 bird boxes for tree sparrows, one had a small wasp nest in it, one was unused and damp. Of the others that we found, they were used with comfy little nests made of grass, feathers and moss. We suspect that they were from blue and great tits, but not tree sparrows. The healthier nests were those facing south-ish. The ones in the trees facing north were more damp and, although some nesting had gone on, our impression was that they had not been used as proper nests. Some repositioning has to be done this winter. Also it would be useful to find the remaining boxes when I have dug out the map I drew showing where we put them up. A couple of nests still had between one and four eggs still inside. These were tiny, whiteish and slightly speckled at one end. If anyone knows who would have laid them, please let me know.

We found one hazel in the hazel coppice area that had been nibbled at the roots by voles, so they are obviously still a pest. I do have some replacements, so all is not lost. There are several trees in my tree nursery which need to be planted this winter. There are very few spaces available, so I am not sure where to put them. We checked the black poplars and not many survived the dry summer. The precious female(s) will have to go where the two males are succeeding so well, but they will be challenged by the bigger trees, so please wish them luck.